An outgoing politician has the unique opportunity to use his final days and months in office to accomplish good for his constituents without fear or worry of upsetting the political establishment. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour elected to use that opportunity to free murderers and rapists, releasing a wave of criminals back into the communities he led to recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
In the last acts of an eight-year governorship considered by most to be a success, largely because of his Katrina response, Barbour issued full and unconditional pardons to 193 convicted criminals. Still more received some other form of clemency, such as an early release from prison. Add the full and unconditional pardons from earlier in his term and Barbour is responsible for 226 criminals being released, many having their record wiped clean of any wrongdoing.
Among those 226 names are 45 people who were convicted of killing a man, woman, or child (21 were convicted murderers, 24 were found guilty of lesser offenses, like manslaughter). Eight of these worked at the Governor’s Mansion while incarcerated. One of them, David Gatlin, was serving a life sentence after he shot and killed his estranged wife as she held their two-month old child. He shot another man in the head during the same incident.
Gatlin left the baby lying on top of his mother’s body.
David Gatlin is now free, and there is no trace of the murder on his record, thanks to Gov. Barbour.